Sunscreens have never been proven to protect against skin cancer or immune
suppression. The BC Atmosphere Caucus is very concerned about this fact,
and is urging the public to cover up instead of using sunscreen.
The following excerpt has been taken from Mother Jones Magazine, May 1993:

              *****    DO SUN SCREENS PROMOTE CANCER?    *****
                           By Michael Castleman

        Most sunscreens block about 5 percent of ultra violet radiation
        --the UVB rays that cause skin to burn. The other 95 percent of
        the UV spectrum, UVA, has long been thought to play a minor role
        in sunburn, so sunscreens block only a small portion of it. But
        studies have shown that UVA may play an important role in skin
        cancer. UVA radiation penetrates more deeply into the skin than
        UVB, down to the melanocytes, the cells that turn into cancerous

        Scientists have yet to identify exactly what corrupts healthy
        melanocytes, largely because there is no animal model for
        melanoma. But mice develop nonmelanoma skin cancers under UV

        Proponents of the sun burn theory are quick to point to a 
        Danish study in which sun screen was shown to delay (but not
        completely prevent) the development of squamous cell tumors
        in mice exposed to artificial sunlight. The higher the sun
        screen's sun protection factor (SPF), the longer it took the
        mice to develop tumors. To date, this is the closest scientists
        have come to establishing the preventive value of sunscreens.

        However, another study at the same lab should give sun screen
        advocates pause. In this experiment, mice exposed to artificial
        sunlight developed a small number of squamous cell tumors. But
        ones exposed to artificial sunlight followed by additional UVA
        developed more than twice as many tumors.

        Not only does this study suggest that UVA may play a role in
        skin cancer, it also points to the particular danger of sunlight
        followed by UVA alone--a cycle similar to that which occurs when
        people use sunscreen. They hit the beach, playground, or ball 
        field and remove some clothing, exposing themselves to full
        spectrum sunlight. Then they apply sunscreen, blocking UVB,
        but continuing their exposure to UVA. As the sunscreen wears off,
        they're again exposed to full sun. After reapplying sunscreen,
        they get additional UVA--and possibly cancer.

        Of course, mice are not human beings, and squamous cell cancers
        are not melanoma, so either study (or both) may mean nothing.
        But melanoma experts trumpet the implications of the first
        study, that sunscreens help prevent skin cancer, while ignoring
        those of the second, that sunscreen use fosters a cancer-promoting
        pattern of UV exposure.

        Unfortunately, there is more disturbing news about sunscreen:
        by impairing the body's production of vitamin D, it may also
        remove a defense against cancer. According to studies, 
        vitamin D has a hormone-like effect that interferes with the
        growth of several tumors, including those associated with
        melanoma and colon and breast cancers. Although we get small
        amounts of the vitamin from milk and cold-water fish, most of 
        our bodies' supply is produced when skin is exposed to UVB.
        By blocking UVB, sunscreens interfere with vitamin D synthesis.
        A recent study shows that habitual sunscreen users have unusually
        low vitamin D levels--sometimes low enough that researchers call
        them "deficient."

        To prevent malignant melanoma, start by using common sense instead
        of just sunscreens. First, assess your risk. Risk factors include:
        fair skin;blonde, red, or light brown hair; blue or green eyes;
        a family history of melanoma; an indoor occupation; outdoor
        leisure activities; numerous moles; freckling on the upper back;
        a tendency to sunburn easily and tan poorly; and actinic keratoses,
        rough, red, sun induced bumps which sometimes develop on fair skin.
        The more risk factors that you have, the more concerned you need
        to be. Any skin colour can develop melanoma, but for those without
        risk factors the danger is slight.

        It is agreed that the best way to prevent harm from sunlight--burning,
        wrinkling, and all forms of skin cancer--is to avoid direct sun 
        between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Just take reasonable precautions: Don't 
        sunbathe. If you love the beach, invest in an umbrella. Don't 
        patronize tanning salons. In summer, adjust your schedule to engage 
        in outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon. When 
        out on summer days, wear a hat, sunglasses, and lightweight, 
        long-limbed clothing.

        Remember, there is no such thing as a "healthy tan," so don't go 
        looking for one. Even if you take all the precautions listed above, 
        you'll still acquire some colour in the summer without significantly 
        raising your melanoma risk.


The following excerpt is taken from Monday Magazine May 20-26,1993:
                   *****    SUNSCREEN SMOKESCREEN   *****
                               By James McKinnon   

   "The next time you buy a sunscreen, look up the company's phone number,
    give them a call, and ask whether their product will protect you from
    skin cancer.

    The answer, invariably, will be complex and long-winded. The truth will
    be "No".

    Sunscreens, as is usually carefully stated on the bottle, protect
    from "the sun's burning rays" -- nothing more.

    About five percent of the ultra violet (UV) spectrum is blocked by
    sunscreen -- the UVB radiation that burns our skin.

    The other 95% of the spectrum -- UVA rays -- bypass sunblock and
    penetrate deeply into the skin, where they may cause cancer. In
    fact, no one is sure which type of UV radiation causes skin cancer,
    or even if the rays are the cause at all.

    The problem with sunscreens is not that they claim to prevent cancer,
    but that many people assume if their skin isn't burning they aren't
    at risk for skin cancer. With sun block on, they stay out longer in
    the sun, playing with a deadly scientific uncertainty.

    Ozone researcher Wayne Evans of Trent University said children are
    particularly at risk, and simply should not be exposed to this 
    summers sun without proper protective clothing.

    Also, evidence is growing to suggest sunscreens do not prevent
    damage by UV rays to the immune system, opening the body to a greater
    risk of diseases.

    According to Eric Taylor, a Scout leader and Environment Canada
    climatologist, sun protection should be three-tiered:
    1. Avoid long sun exposure between peak UV hours of 10am to 3pm.

    2. Wear a wide-brimmed hat,sun glasses, and long shirts and pants during
    any long exposure.

    3. Wear sun block on difficult to protect area's (like the nose), or
    when long exposures are unavoidable, such as for outside workers.

The BCAC has asked many sun screen companies to provide us with scientific
data on the effectiveness of their sun screen. Currently, not one of our
requests has been answered or even recognized.

The following excerpt has been taken from Mother Jones Magazine May, 1993.

                *****   How to Spot Melanoma in Moles *****
                          By Michael Castleman 

    Few people understand how life-saving early melanoma detection can be.
    Seventy percent of melanoma tumors develop from pre-existing moles.
    So examine your moles regularly--or have someone else do it--and know
    the ABCD's of melanoma detection.

        * Asymmetry: Most normal moles are round and symmetrical.
          Melanomas are oddly shaped and asymmetrical.

        * Border: Most normal moles have smooth edges. Melanomas
          often have notched or scalloped edges.

        * Colour: Most normal moles are a single shade of brown.
          Melanomas are black, blue, pink, and multicolored.

        * Diameter: Most normal moles are less than one-quarter
          inch in diameter. Early melanomas often grow outward and
          become larger.

    Even before melanoma moles undergo visual changes, they often itch.
    If one of your moles starts to itch, or begins to discharge fluid,
    or if you become nervous about a mole for any reason, ask your
    doctor for a referral to a dermatologist. If you have significant
    melanoma risk factors, see a dermatologist annually.